REMARKABLE RARE ENGRAVED CIVIL WAR MARTIALLY MARKED HENRY RIFLE ID TO 3RD REGIMENT U.S. VETERAN VOLUNTEERS

$45,000.00 SOLD

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Item Code: 136-18

Presented here is a handsome, brass-frame Henry rifle with serial # 3355. It is one of only some 14,000 Henry rifles manufactured between 1860 and 1866. The U.S. government purchased and issued only 1,731 Henry rifles numbered in the 3,000 to 4,200 range. From the Winchester Firearms records, this early Henry was produced in the last quarter of 1863 at the New Haven Arms Co. facility in New Haven, Connecticut.

Rifle measures almost 43” long overall and sports a 24¼” long octagonal barrel with a front-loading, integral tubular magazine below. Magazine can hold fifteen .44 caliber rimfire metallic cartridges plus one in the chamber. The barrel exhibits a pleasing gray patina with light scattered mottling. Stamped clearly on the top barrel facet in front of the folding ladder rear sight is the maker mark “HENRY’S PATENT OCT. 16, 1860 / MANUFACT’D BY THE NEW HAVEN ARMS CO. NEW HAVEN, CT.” Barrel muzzle area retains the original brass blade front sight and the twist portion of the barrel to enable loading the tubular magazine. Barrel metal has no pitting and only scattered minor surface scratches. Rifle retains the original barrel loading spring in excellent condition. Serial number #3355 is clearly stamped on barrel behind the rear sight.

Brass frame and buttstock wear a pleasing, mellow patina. The brass frame has wonderfully delicate after-market engraving on both sides. The left side has a central motif of a patriotic shield flanked by flags. Above and below this central design are long delicate lines with scrolled ends. Below the bottom line is a pear still on the tree limb with a leaf and bud while above the line are two flowers in full bloom with a leaf. The foremost part of the frame on this left side has a detailed 1 ¾” long laurel branch with leaves and acorns. There is also scrollwork decoration around the frame screws and at intervals along the edges of the frame.

The right side of the frame has the same scrollwork decoration around the screws and border but the central motif on this side is a blank scroll encased between two heart shaped medallions with double borders filled with delicate and intricate decoration. The heart shaped medallions lay horizontally and meet at the bottom points with floral decorations on either side. The forward section of the frame on this right side bears a wonderfully executed butterfly or moth. The detail of the work throughout the frame is excellent. The top of the brass frame, the frame tang and the buttplate tang all have delicate scrollwork decorations. The soft brass of the frame does show some wear and minor scratches.

The oil stained walnut stock exhibits a faint government cartouche on the right wrist area. Stock is varnished and exhibits minor dings and scratches from normal handling and use. There are no cracks, gouges, breaks or blemishes. Lever locking latch is present on bottom of stock at triggerguard tang. No cleaning or wiping rods are stowed in the brass-hinged door in the buttplate. The bore has good rifling but needs cleaning. Action is tight and crisp.

For many years it was believed that Henry rifles bearing this type of non-standard engraving was done by Lockwood Sanford, an engraver in New Haven, Connecticut where the Henry rifle was produced. However, in the latest issue (Jan. 2016) of “MAN AT ARMS” magazine there is an article by Steven Stevens detailing the true artist behind the wonderful engraving found on this weapon.

Of the 24 Henry rifles known to exist with similar engraving 13 are identified to members of Company B, 3rd U. S. Veteran Volunteers. This regiment was formed in 1865 for one-year service in General Hancock’s 1st Veteran Army Corps. With so many engraved Henry’s identified to members of one company Mr. Stevens looked at the pre-war occupations of the men in the regiment and found only one man listed as an engraver. That was Private Lewis Reibrecht of Company B, 3rd U.S. Veteran Volunteers. The interesting thing about Reibrect’s work is that though each weapon has some of the same decoration he used different symbols on each weapon to help set it apart. For instance where this weapon has a butterfly or moth on the left side of the frame others are known to have a cross or a star, a bird, flags, eagles etc… Some of the examples also have names done in Old English letters on the plate engraved on the right side of the frame. Some men, like the owner of this weapon, preferred not to have their names put on the weapon. It should here be pointed out that the men of the 3rd U.S.V.V. were given ownership of the Henry rifles issued to them by the Government as a further incentive to enlist. Therefore the after-market engraving was tolerated.

This is not only a rare Civil War weapon identified to a regiment but it is also a work of fine art. With the item is a copy of the above mentioned article in “MAN AT ARMS.”

DISCLAIMER: All firearms are sold as collector's items only - we do not accept responsibility as to the shooting safety or reliability of any antique firearm. All firearms are described as accurately as possible, given the restraints of a catalog listing length. We want satisfied customers & often "under" describe the weapons. Any city or state regulations regarding owning antique firearms are the responsibility of the purchaser. All firearms are "mechanically perfect" unless noted, but again, are NOT warranted as safe to fire.

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